Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dinner at Apo'nun Yeri Biz Bize .... partying at 7800 Çeşme...

Dear Readers,

And a happy Sunday to all of you - wherever in the world you are! Besides my readers growing at a modest rate, the number of readers from different countries is also increasing which is great!

Since I am not getting much feedback, I don't know if I am on the right track and keeping you interested with my posts - so for the time being, I will continue doing what I am doing and will make adjustments based on your requests.

Today is Day 7 of my trip to Çeşme and I am having a lovely time! I am relaxing on and off, but I think I will definitely "need a vacation from my vacation" - isn't that the best kind of vacation anyway?

This post will include info on some of the things we did on Day 6 of my vacation to give you a flavor of what you can do while you visit Çeşme too.

I always say this and I will say it again.. weekend traveling is great and I have done many long weekend trips while working full-time, but always be prepared for extra crowds and possible problems with service during weekend vacations to resort areas.

For this reason... and since I am here for an undetermined number of days, we preferred to stay at home during the day yesterday instead of heading to one of the many beach clubs in Çeşme and Alaçatı. It gets too crowded, there is more traffic to get there and service is affected.

After a lazy-hazy day at home, we decided to have a quiet family dinner right in the neighborhood in Ilıca with sis, brother-in-law, nephew and my sis's mother-in-law as we planned on heading to 7800 Çeşme beach club for a live music and DJ performance in the evening.

We went to a local favorite which has been around since 1964... it is called Apo'nun Yeri Biz Bize and it is a short 10 minute walk from the house. (5152 Sokak No. 81/C Plaj Evleri - Ilıca ; Tel: (0232) 723 10 40). The main branch branch is at Inkilap Caddesi No. 6/A Çeşme (Tel: (0232) 712 93 40) 

This longstanding family style meat/kebab restaurant is one of the favorites in Çeşme. The menu includes all sorts of meats (köfte - Turkish style meatballs; meat on a skewer; chicken dishes; pide - open faced pastry stuffed with meat and/or cheese; döner desserts. Also, the prices are modest and beer and rakı (local Turkish drink similar to ouzo) are also served.

After we ordered, we were served (gratis) lavash bread and an assortment of pickles, shredded cheese (something similar to Parmesan), mushrooms, haydari - a plain yogurt based dish and ezme - a spicy tomato based dish. I took pictures, but food photography is something totally different, however, I will still post them.

Before our meal arrived and we all ordered different versions of köfte and meat on a skewer, we were each served (gratis) mini round lahmacun (similar to a pizza but with chopped meat and topped with melted kaşar cheese -  cheese is normally not used, but this version of lahmacun had it and it was delicious). We all shared a piyaz salad which is prepared with navy beans, chopped lettuce and onions).

We ate too much and shared a dessert called künefe which is served warm and prepared with shredded wheat, cheese and syrup... it was very very good!

The family dinner was a success and we walked back to the house at around 11:00pm and then changed to get ready for a night of partying with friends at 7800 Çeşme Beach Club.

I wrote about this place before a few posts ago if you want to read more about it. A beach club and restaurant by day, it turns into a bar/club by night with DJ performances and from time to time live music acts appearing on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer.

We got there around 11:30pm and met a few friends (we were 9 people in all) and found places to sit at the bar as it wasn't crowded yet but within an hour, the place was packed! They also have bar tables and lounges for seating lined up around the stage, however, it is more expensive to sit at these places and there is a high minimum (more than likely you have to open a bottle of liquor at least). However, you can hang out at the bar and order drinks. There is no cover charge for the music. Wine was 20 TL glass and mixed drinks vary between 25 TL and 30 TL.

The live music part of the show included Hüsnü Şenlendirici - a Turkish saxophonist and he did his own interpretations of certain songs with oriental and Turkish accents - however, to be quite frank, he didn't "wow" the crowd. However, afterwards a very popular Turkish DJ U.F.U.K. starting spinning and the whole place was full of people dancing up a storm. When we left at 4:00am, there were still people there! I didn't take any pictures at the club as it was very dimly lit and didn't want to intrude on the revelers fun by placing their photos in my blog. 

So... day 6 was full of relaxation, family fun and dancing to the wee hours of the morning - a great combination indeed!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

A day at Fun Beach (ex Kum Beach) in Çeşme...

Dear readers,

Welcome to day 5 (written on day 6) of my trip to Çeşme! Time is quickly passing and I believe I will be leaving in a few days to either return to Istanbul or make a stop over in another jewel of the Aegean coast - Bodrum! Bodrum is a city that I know like the back of my hand and have been visiting the city for the past 30 years - at least. This trip for me is both business and pleasure as I am researching the region for the next issue of Fodor's Travel Guide on Turkey which will be published in March 2012 and I have been commissioned to edit and update the section on the Central and Southeast Aegean regions. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!

After an incredible evening of good food, cheer and music at MONK by Babylon last night (see previous article), we decided to spend a day at the beach yesterday and then go-karting in the evening - something my nephew has been asking us to do for days!

Our beach club of choice yesterday was Fun Beach - previously called Kum Beach. Fun Beach is located in Altınkum and just to give you an idea, it is about a 10 minute drive from downtown Çeşme and about a 20-25 minute drive from Ilıca where I am staying.

We had made a reservation for a table (always a good idea) at Palm Restaurant. We got there around 2:00pm... we didn't want to go too early as it is very hot. Also, we were tired from the night before and moving in "slow-mo" mode! It is also a good idea to make reservations for the chaise lounges (about 680!) on the sandy and spacious beachfront or for one of the 21 cabanas (can seat up to about 8-10 people) situated right on the water. As we didn't want to sit under the sun, we didn't reserve a chaise lounge but my sister was lucky enough to find one as she wanted to sun for a while. 

As it is the start of the weekend, it was very crowded, but it is a very large area, so you don't feel cramped.

Our trip to Fun Beach included my sister Meltem, my brother-in-law Ibrahim, my nephew Arman and my little puppy Luka. Luka has become quite the swimmer and goes into the water at least twice - but, I don't think he really likes to swim, but it does cool him down and his "aunt" takes care of his swimming expeditions.

Just when I was saying that I am not completely satisfied with the quality of food at Beach Clubs, The Palm Restaurant at Fun Beach proved me wrong! I did visit Fun Beach last year too and had enjoyed the food as well.

The menu at Palm Restaurant is quite extensive with apps, salads, mains, fish, pizza and more. The food is quite good and the prices are moderate to high depending on what you order. I can recommend the grilled shrimp, Mediterranean toast sandwich (toasted whole wheat bread with sundried tomatoes, black olive paste, white cheese and salami); and grilled eggplant and grilled green bell peppers with a side of plain yogurt. The hamburger is also good which of course was Arman's selection!

We were there until about 7:00pm and went through a couple of bottles of ice cold rosé wine (Egeo - Kavaklıdere) and a couple of frozen watermelon and strawberry cocktails.

We had a lovely day at Fun Beach - the weather was very hot, but as we were sitting under the shade it felt good! We ran into some friends we knew... the music that the DJ was spinning was fantastic... what else can you ask for?

Fun Beach is open daily from 10:00am to 7:00pm. There is an admission charge and parking fee... there is a restaurant, several bars and an area where you can get a massage right on the water! Tel: (0232) 722 12 92.

As we had a long day at the beach, we ate dinner at home and afterwards went to Alaçatı Go-Kart in Alaçatı because my nephew wanted to try a hand at go-karting. As he is now 10 years old, he is allowed to go-kart. Of course, while he was doing it, we too decided our hand at it! I haven't done go-karting in over 20 years, but let me tell you - it is a lot of fun!!! The race course is not very long, but you can still have a good time. The cost is 20 TL for 10 minutes for adults with cars with 6 mph... and 20 TL also for kids for 10 minutes. We did 15 minutes so we paid 30 TL/each. They have faster cars and the prices change accordingly. ( (Tel: (0232) 716 23 65.

It is now about 3:30pm on Day 6 of my trip and we are just relaxing at home around the pool... all the beach clubs get very crowded on the weekends, so if you have a house - best to hang out at home! But, we will make up for it in the evening and go out... more on that in my next post!


Friday, July 29, 2011

MONK by Babylon.... "THE" place to go in Çeşme!!!

Dear readers,

Good morning! After not posting for several days - I am now back in full swing and hope to post everyday from my trip to Çeşme/Alaçatı if possible! I am on vacation so finding time can be difficult at times, but I will do my best!

My post yesterday included info on my first three days in this lovely resort town on the Aegean coast in Turkey. Today, I will give you info on what I did yesterday.

As we have been running around night and day since I arrived with my sis, brother-in-law and other friends and family - yesterday during the day we decided to relax and just stay at home. "Home" is still a beautiful big house with a swimming pool and the Ilıca Beach right across the street, so its not sooo bad to be stuck at home for a change!

In the evening, we decided to go to the Çeşme Marina once again as my nephew was coming with us and he wanted to eat at Burger King - typical 10 year-old! Also, since his dear aunt (that would be me of course) was not in Çeşme for his birthday in mid-July, so we were going to buy his birthday gift together.

We got to the Marina about 9:00pm...Arman had his dinner at his fast food haven and then we got his birthday gift from D&R and then - since we were unsure as to what time we would be having dinner - had not made a reservation anywhere,so we just walked around at first. We stopped by Wineway for a glass of - guess what - wine!!! This wine and cheese bar has a nice selection of Turkish and International wines by the bottle and a fewer selection (which changes) by the glass.ç The prices by the bottle/glass are moderate compared to restaurants. We had a glass of French Shiraz (18 TL/glass) which was very good. Unfortunately, they do not have a kitchen (due to space) - but if you'd like, you can order food from a couple of restaurants that are nearby as they will serve you at Wineway. We did not want to do this and my sister Meltem wanted to go to Monk. THANK GOD SHE DID!!!

MONK by Babylon ( is a few stores down from Wineway. It opened last season and this is the first time I had a chance to go. The spacious venue is a bar, restaurant and club with live music nightly. We sat down around 10:00pm and the minute I saw the menu, I knew we were at the right place! It was different than the rest! Having seen the "same old - same old" salads, apps and mains at other restaurants in town, this menu just pops out. You can visit their website to see the entire list. Their chef this year is the young and talented Paul Anthony, who was the chef at Shayna at Aya Yorgi last year. Take my word for it when I say he works miracles in the kitchen and is an excellent and imaginative chef.

After ordering a bottle of wine (Antares/Shiraz - 95 TL), we ordered our meal. I ordered two appetizers: Grilled Calamari Salad and Spring Roll stuffed with duck meat; my sister the grilled salmon and my brother-in-law serrano ham and melon for an appetizer and Provençal Mussels for a main course.

The band was warming up as we sat down and when our bread and olive oil dipping sauce arrived, a heavenly voice was to be heard - Della Miles. I knew we were definitely in for a treat!

Between oohing-aahing over our food - we all tried each other's dishes and the music... what can I say - it was an amazing night! Della Miles has an incredible voice - it is soft, velvety and her renditions of some of the major stars (Amy Winehouse, etc.) are a treat to listen to. She had two sets and the lovely musical night ended at around 12:30am. During her 2nd set, we ordered dessert - a lemon tart and baked pear with ice cream with lavendar essence. Do I need to tell you how good both were??? I had a chivas on the rocks, and we ordered 2 espressos and a grappa to cap off our night.

The total bill for our evening was 339 TL + tip and as there is no music cover, this is an excellent price - good company, great food, excellent music - what else can you ask for!!!

A little tired, a little tipsy and totally full, we said good night to Monk by Babylon and Della Miles as we had a chance to chat with her for a couple of minutes... she is from Texas... she appeared at Babylon in Istanbul and will hopefully appear their again in 2013... she is at Monk until July 30th and then returns to Monk to perform from August 30 - September 3. If you are in the neighborhood, I strongly recommend that you listen to her - and make reservations to be on the safe side... or you can also hang out at the bar and just have drinks - but I say - have a great meal at the same time too!

Lastly, the following is Monk's schedule through the end of August (not including Della Miles)

August 2-6           Ilhan Erşahin Trio and Burhan Öcal
August 9-13         Ilhan Erşahin Trio
August 17-20       Ayhan Sicimoğlu and Latin All Stars
August 23-27       Jozi Levi Brasil Project

All of the above bands are also very very good. Additionally, every Sunday and Monday night Havana Salsa appears. We will more than likely go to Ihan Erşahin on August 3rd - my birthday!

Monk is open daily from 5:00pm to 2:00am (Tel: (0232) 712 93 31).

A final note on Babylon... the longstanding Istanbul based live music club is probably the best internationally recognized club in Turkey. You can check out their program at They will once again open for the fall season in September.

Happy listening and eating!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Çeşme & Alaçatı with Dani, Luka and friends!

Dear readers,

It has been a few day since I have had a chance to post to my blog, so now I am back and I hope you come back too as I see my readership has fallen as I have not posted any new articles!

I am on a well deserved "vacation" mode for the next week or so as I have had a very busy schedule this year and need a break - just like everyone. I did think freelance life would be a little easier - but I've noticed that I do work more at times. But, it is fun and I am happy with my decision and now have the opportunity to work on lots of different projects for many different clients. I do recommend it to everyone who has the opportunity to do this instead of having to go to an office everyday for set hours! I did this throughout my entire career which spans over 30 years!

In my last article, I gave all of you a little preview of Çeşme and Alaçatı which is about a 45 minute drive from Izmir on the Aegean coast.

Luka and my vacation to this area began on Monday morning when we took the 11.00am flight from Istanbul via THY to Izmir... the flight time is about 45 minutes - we were delayed leaving and arrived at about 12.15pm and were picked up by a taxi to take us to Çeşme. As I mentioned in my last post, there is no "shared" ride system like the Havaş bus from the airport to Çeşme. You can take a taxi to the center of Izmir and pick up a bus to Çeşme, but with all the connections, will take you a couple of hours to arrive. The current price of a taxi to Çeşme is 170 TL - a little over USD 100 and about 85 Euros.
I am staying in an area called "Şantiye" in the Ilıca district of Çeşme which is right on the waterfront and in front of Ilıca Beach (a public beach) at my sister and brother-in-law's house. The house has a beautiful spacious garden with a swimming pool.  Below is a partial view of Ilıca Beach from the house and Luka and my nephew Arman getting re-acquainted after not seeing each other for awhile.

On the first night of my vacation to Çeşme, we had a "ladies night out" at the Çeşme Marina. The group included some friends also in Çeşme and we were about 9 women in all. We had dinner at Tuval Çeşme Marina. Tuval is a longstanding and popular restaurant in Çeşme and their main branch is on the main strip on Kemalpaşa Street in Alaçatı. This branch opened last year and is on the waterfront at the Marina. The Çeşme Marina opened last year and the state-of-the-art marina is a great addition to the area. There are numerous restaurants, clubs, bars, supermarket, retailers and more. You can literally spend the entire day/night there and find something to do, but of course, during the day it is just tooo hot!

Back to Tuval Çeşme Marina... the menu at this branch is not the same as the main branch, so some of the specialties cannot be found. The emphasis here is more on seafood, while the other branch specializes in meat dishes. The wine list is quite limited when it comes to "by the glass" and only one Turkish brand and one foreign brand of wine are available. By the bottle, there are more choices. The majority of us offered meat and a few (including me) ordered fish. Unfortunately, I had been there before, but on this visit, the service was very slow and we waited quite a long time to get served. However, the waiters were very nice. Afterwards, as all women do, we walked around and did some shopping before getting back home around 1.30am.

On day 2 of my vacation, we decided to go to a beach club and our choice for the day was 7800 Beach Club. 7800 is a posh boutique hotel and residence on the watefront in an area called Boyalık which is about a 15 minute car ride from Ilıca. So, the entire clan and my sister's sister-in-law arrived at the beach club in the late afternoon.  The beach club is independently managed and owned by Emre Ergani, a name well known in the nightlife scene with restaurants and clubs/bars in Istanbul, Bodrum and starting this year in Çeşme - he does get around and is quite successful.

The club is moderately sized with chaise lounges on the sandy beach and also spread out in the garden area. There is a fairly large sized bar with seating in the center and a separate area for dining. There is always music playing in the background while you sun and swim. It is a fun place - it is an exclusive place and finding a place to sit - especially on the weekend can be difficult, so I suggest you go early. Most importantly, the water is crystal clear and it is not very deep at first, so the beach is also good for the kids.

The menu is pretty extensive at 7800 Beach with apps, salads, burgers, pizza and more - the prices are "beachy" prices and the food is so-so. My expectations for meals are never very high at beach clubs around the world. However, the drinks are always good!!!!

We were at 7800 Beach until about 7.00pm and then went and did some food shopping because we decided to eat in and my brother-in-law prepared the "best" bbq grilled seabass for the entire family (about 9 of us). After dinner, we decided to go out for drinks and headed to Alaçatı around 11:00pm. As I mentioned earlier, the main strip in Alaçatı is Kemalpaşa Street... which is a very narrow street with even narrower side streets lined with all sorts of eateries, hotels, clubs, retailers and more. And... each one is packed to the hilt with vacationers every night of the week! It is a fun place if you like crowds!

We went to the Istanbul based Biber Bar  for cocktails. Once again, this place is owned by Emre Ergani and this branch opened this season. We were there for several hours hanging out with friends we ran into, having cocktails and listening to music.

On the subject of music, a new law went into effect in this area of Alaçatı last year. In an effort to reduce noise pollution, all the clubs and bars in the area have to really turn down the volume of the music played after midnight. So, for this reason, most clubbers head to different parts of the resort town where this restriction does not apply. Thiş particular night we were tired so we justed headed home after Biber Bar.

Day 3 started like the rest of the days... getting up around 9:00am - I'm lucky - Luka is alllowing me to sleep in an extra hour here!

Our "beach" of choice for today is Memo's Şamdan Beach in Dalyan. Şamdan has been one of the best clubs in Istanbul for over 35 years and is owned by Mehmet Tuna. Şamdan closes for the summer months and Mehmet opened this beach club this year in Çeşme.

Dalyan is most known for its great seafood restaurants - most lined up side by side along the waterfront. This beach club is in a more secluded area of Dalyan and is connected to the Dalyan Residence Hotel and there is a public beach next door.

Şamdan Beach is not very large - on the waterfront the club is situated in a tiered level deck (no sand thank god!) with direct access to the clear blue waters of the Aegean. This beach club is quiet - no blasting music and is more suitable for adults as there are no attractions to keep the kids busy. Compared to other beach clubs, the food and service here are quite good and the prices are moderate to expensive. We totally enjoyed our salads (Stroganoff and Parmesan and arugula) and köfte (Turkish style meatballs) and had several frozen cocktails (with watermelon and peach with vodka) and had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. BTW.. Luka loves the beach too! As with all dogs, he is a natural swimmer and goes swimming a couple of times with his aunt Meltem - as his mom does not swim and is afraid of the water! We had a thoroughly enjoyable day at Şamdan Beach and headed home around 7:00pm.

For dinner, we decided we were in the mood for Italian and made reservations at Beatrice in Alaçatı. On a side street off of Kemalpaşa Street, it is located in a lovely modestly sized and quiet alcove. Owned by Beatrice (an Italian woman chef), it has been at this location for the past 4 years and we just "discovered" it! We had reservations for 9:00pm and after getting a little lost, arrived at 9:15pm. It was a quiet night for the eatery with very few customers.

Our waiter was Giovanni... he is a friend of Beatrice's and has been coming to Alaçatı during the summers to help his friend out... he is from Umbria and also lives in Goa, India during a portion of the year.

The menu at Beatrice is very simple with a modest selection. There are about 7-8 pasta dishes; around 6 appetizers and pizza; 2 main courses and desserts. While deciding, homemade bread (excellent!) and fresh basil dip and ricotta cheese balls were served.

We decided to share an appetizer and had Beef Carpaccio which was very fresh and served with arugula and Parmesan cheese.

As a main course, my sister had orchietta (probably spelled it wrong) pasta with shrimp (delicious). I had a pizza margherita and my brother-in-law a prosciutto pizza. We had 2 bottles of Italian wine from Tuscany ... and coffee. The bill was 285 TL and we left saying we would be back and recommend Beatrice to all visting the area.

Tonight was a fairly early night for us and after walking around Alaçatı for awhile we headed back home around 12.30am and the following is a typical side street in Alaçatı.

Today is day 4 of my trip and as I am writing in my blog, you can imagine, I am home sitting in the backyard in the shade - enjoying a glass of wine with friends and family and getting ready for an evening out!

So... I will have more news from my trip in the coming days - so keep on following me and sharing my post with your friends!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Preview... Çeşme & Alaçatı

Dear Readers,

After a few crazy days of finalizing my projects in Istanbul and then spending the next couple of days organizing my affairs in Istanbul and packing... I am now on my way to Çeşme!

For those not familiar with this waterfront Aegean resort town... it is about a 30-45 minute drive (depending on how fast you are going) along a modern highway from the beautiful Aegean city Izmir.

I will be arriving at the Adnan Menderes Airport in Izmir and then will take a taxi to Çeşme. Unfortunately, due to many reasons, there is no HAVAŞ Service to this area - so you have 3 choices 1) taxi; 2) a bus from downtown Izmir; 3) a rental car. As Çeşme gets more and more popular, I am sure there will be easier - and cheaper transportation available.

Taxis charge a flat fee and the going rate is about 170 TL right now (a little over USD 100) - sometimes you can get a flight from Istanbul to Izmir for cheaper! You can try and bargain, but it's not so bad if you are sharing the ride with a couple of friends.

Below is a map showing the route from Izmir to Çeşme proper and its districts...

Some of the main districts in Çeşme include Alaçatı, Ilıca and Dalyan along with Boyalıköy, Çiftlikköy and more. The area is pretty spread out and not accessible by walking - once again you will need transportation. If you do not rent a car, taxis are a bit expensive and as soon as I get info on alternative transportation, which I never used, I will share this info with you.

I will be staying in Ilıca along the waterfront and below is a pix of Ilıca public beach.

The colors of the water at this sandy beach is incredible as you can see from the photograph. Since it is a public beach, I don't recommend that you go on the weekend as it gets ultra crowded. And.. there is no chaise lounge rentals or places to get something to eat on the beach - except for the street vendors.

If you want a "chi chi" beach experience with side by side beach clubs, beautiful people, pristine waters, cocktails, music and food... then head over to Ayayorgi Bay. Some of the cool beach clubs here are the longstanding Sole Mare, Paparrazzi, and the newcomer Marakkech.. there are a few others too. Each has a cover charge which usually includes a beverage. Below is a birds eye view of Ayayorgi.

For nighttime fun, head over to the new Çeşme Marina which opened last year. There are numerous eateries at all prices ranges, a club, shopping and more and below is a picture of the new marina.

Now, let's head over to Alaçatı for a quick tour. The beaches in this area are favored by windsurfers. The town itself is so quaint with narrow streets lined with beautiful 2-3 story restored picturesque stone buildings which are either boutique hotels, restaurants and clubs or retailers.

A little further out of the main town, you will find the new Alaçatı Port Marina.

This marina also opened in 2010 and is surrounded with beautiful deluxe villas, a hotel and a marina full of wonderful eateries.

The last stop on our mini-tour is Dalyan. This area is very popular with its seafood restaurant and a must go...

So... dear readers... this is just a mini preview of Çeşme... I will have more detailed information for you in the coming week... so keep on following my posts!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Potpourri....Mangerie Bebek & Miss Pizza

Dear readers,

Summer has finally arrived in Istanbul and the rest of the country with a bang!!! Until a few days ago, the temperatures in the country were average for this time of year, but now they are - in some cases - 6-7 centigrades above the norm. And, when you add the humidity and no breeze, it feels even hotter!

As they say... "c'est la vie" - we just have to cope with what life deals us!

Since I have been very busy finishing up a major project for one of my clients, unfortunately I have not been able to be very "social" for the last week or so - so I don't have many "fresh" updates on places I visited recently, but my "repertoire" of venues is so extensive, that I can still share my wealth of knowledge with you - even when I can't leave the house!

And ... now we begin...

Last night I was invited to a party at Mangerie Bebek ( by Beefeater's (gin) PR company. Unfortunately, I had such a full day of running around, my battery died out at 7:00pm and I couldn't go... however, I have been a customer of Mangerie Bebek ever since it opened... can't remember exactly when, but I think it has been at least 5 years. It is owned and managed by Elif Yalın (she also owns Delicatessen in Nişantaşı and IstinyePark shopping mall), who herself is a talented chef and cookbook author. Prior to opening her own venue, Elif was one of the partners of The House Cafe before she ventured out on her own.

Managerie Bebek is not a place you will see walking down the street in Bebek on Cevdetpaşa Street - the main strip. It is located on the rooftop of a building that houses Lulus's on the street level.

Be prepared to walk about quite a bit of steps to reach this eatery, but even if a little winded (as I always am), you won't be disappointed.

Mangeri Bebek is not very big... the decor is very casual and comfortable and you almost feel like you are sitting in someone's living room. It has an open kitchen and a small terrace with a partial view of the Bosphorus waterfront. This is the place to sit at in the summer, so make a reservation before going - for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Elif has a website which is unfortunately only in Turkish... but to give you an idea of her menu... she too has the all pre-requisite items to include salads, sandwiches, burgers, main courses, desserts, etc. - but all the selections are prepared with a twist and are quite filling as the portion sizes are above average. The "twist" is either the ingredients (always fresh, always in season), how the ingredients are used and the bread (always home made). Just to give you an example... one of my favorites is the "Balık-Ekmek" sandwich which means fish sandwich. The ingredients are grilled seabass topped with mashed eggplant, green olive tapenade, roasted red bell peppers and arugula on homemade corn bread! I just gained a kilo writing about it! It is so so good! Another point on the menu - it includes pork products (bacon, pork sausages) which is not common on most menus in Istanbul and a few lamb dishes. It also includes a whole host of breakfast treats - from omelettes and other egg dishes to scrumptious huge toast sandwiches, pancakes and muesli. Also, make sure to try the homemade lemonade - with or without mint - talk about refreshing!

Mangerie Bebek is open daily from 8:00am to midnight,alcohol is served, prices are medium to high, reservations are recommended and all credit cards are accepted. I am hoping to visit Mangerie Bebek after my trip to Çeşme and Imzir because it has been a while since I had the chance to go there and miss the food, tranquility and homey atmosphere - and of course the efficient service.

Actually, I just realized I do have one "live" new experience to share with you. Yesterday I had to go to Şişhane for a meeting with a client. For those who don't know Şişhane... it is at the end of the Taksim and Beyoğlu area and just below Asmalımescit. In fact, in the picture below, you will see the steps that you can walk up that will take you into the heart of Asmalımescit and Tünel and also steps from Galata and Istiklal Street - the main hub in Beyoğlu.

I took the metro to Şişhane from Levent  - the cheapest (1,75TL versus a 15 TL cab ride) and coolest (the metro has excellent A/C while most taxis do not turn on the A/C) way to get there - and especially in under 20 minutes!

Up until a couple of years ago, the Şişhane district was very run down and only passed on the way to go somewhere else or if you have some business with the Municpality of Beyoğlu (see picture below). It has now gone through a major transformation: the streets have been re-paved and there are very nice new restaurants, cafes, hotels, etc. to eat at or stay in. Since this is an article by itself... I will leave it at that and get back to a Şişhane tour at a later date.

I arrived in Şişhane early - which was good as I was starving! To the left of the metro exit is a placed called Miss Pizza ( The "original" opened in Cihangir a few years ago and this branch last year. As this was the closest place to where I was going for my meeting, I decided to stop by. It is a small and quaint eatery with indoor and outdoor seating and with an exposed open "brick oven" and as you might have guessed - there specialty is pizza! Even though this is the 2nd time I am going there, I haven't tried the pizza yet, but I hear it is good. Since I was pressed for time, I ordered an appetizer: Avocado Caprese, which includes a couple of slices of fresh avocado, buffalo mozarella cheese, slices of cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and olive oil paste. The dish is very refreshing and delicious, but I personally think the portion can be bigger (16 TL). It is served with oven baked thin foccacia bread sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, however, it was a little dry as it should have been served warm. All in all, I had a nice experience, but the thing I noticed both times is that the waiters (even though it was not crowded) are not very attentive - it can be difficult getting their attention. But, I still recommend that you stop by if in the neighborhood, because the quality of the food makes up for this minor indiscretion.

I hope you enjoy wha tyou read - and if you do... please feel free to share with your friends and I would also love to get some feedback!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

REINA... the "queen" of the Bosphorus!!

Dear Readers,

I hope you are enjoying your Sunday - no matter where in the world you are and whether your Sunday has even begun! Because of the different time zones, my readers in the USA and Canada are probably still sleeping! But, once awake, I hope they are reading this article for a slice of Istanbul!

I on the other hand have been holed up at home for the past 3 years working on a longgggggg and major project for a prominent client - even though I had every intention on being in Çeşme now and giving  you info on this lovely summer resort town. But, my client approached me on Tuesday and I just couldn't say no! So, I hope to finish up this project by Wednesday - spend a couple of days taking care of business in Istanbul and then Luka and I are off to Çeşme!!

As the old saying goes... "all work and no play makes "Jack" - or Dani in this case - a dull boy - or girl in this case...."

So, instead of getting straight to work this am (I worked until about 1:00am last night!!), I decided to post an article first to get the cobwebs out of my head!

The post "du jour" is about Reina Night Club ( .... the "queen" of the Bosphorus! Reina is both a Spanish word and a girl's name which means 'queen'. Also a Yiddish word, it means 'pure' or 'clean' and the Yiddish form of the word Catherine. It also has a meaning in Japanese, but too long to get into.

Located on the Bosphorus waterfront in Kuruçeşme (located steps from  Ortaköy and Arnavutköy), I can't believe that Reina has been open for 10 years! I am always amazed at how quickly the time passes, as I remember when it opened! I had just started working at The Guide magazines and was wondering what this place was going to be like and how long it would last as a couple of other people - "tried and failed" to make this site a popular venue (I vaguely remember  it was called Tropicana with a huge swimming pool in the center!).

Slowly and patiently Reina became a major part of our lives in Istanbul - it "exploded" with time and for years, all sorts of notable singers, actors, diplomats, athletes have graced Reina with their presence and continue to do so! The list is very long... but some of the more "eye-catching" names include megastars Sting, Bon Jovi, and U2 with a sprinkle of Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek and Kevin Costner and a dusting of Paris Hilton, Mike Tyson, the Liverpool soccer team and Boris Becker!

With a breathtaking view of the Bosphorus, Reina Night Club is open year round, but it is totally in full swing during the summer months because the outdoor section is open. During the winter months, only Reina Restaurant and the club section (with a heated area outdoors for smokers) is open. It opens daily at 6:00pm and the restaurants start service at 7:00pm. The club is open from 10:00pm to 5:00am - so you can either go to Reina just for drinks, dinner or dinner/drinks.

What has made Reina so enduring is the quality of the restaurants under its roof. Most have been part of the club since its opening, with a few joining in the last few years.. so, now let's take a little "tour" of Reina!

Reina has two entrances flanked with scary looking bodyguards, but once you get past their bulky builds, black suits, earphones dangling from their ears and pouty faces, you will realize that they are really their to ensure that your night at Reina is not ruined. They make sure that the "right" people are allowed to enter. I'm sorry - but this is the case all over the world! Some people are taken aback by this, but I personally think this is necessary. They are professionals and if you act with respect with them, they will be respectful to you. But, if you are rude, a bit tipsy - not dressed the part and just plain rambuctious, they will understandably act accordingly!

Ohh... I just realized they have another entrance! You can also reach Reina ... via the Bosphorus - that is if you have a boat, rent a boat, have a friend who has a boat or take one of the boat taxi services!

Reina is on three levels... on the mezzanine level is a huge rectangular bar in the center surrounded with seating. After midnight, this is where the action is! During the earlier hours, it is a little more quiet. You can sit (wait to be seated) or stand - and there is limited a snack menu.

To the left of the bar is our first eatery: Köşebaşı ( A longstanding popular meat and kebab restaurant, Köşebaşı has several branches in Istanbul and in other parts of Turkey and abroad. Many nights it is possible to see big groups of foreigners and/or Turks enjoying typical Turkish appetizers, meats and kebabs.

Right above Köşebaşı is Dragon ( Owned by Ergun Yücebıyık, this longstanding Chinese restaurant's main branch is located in an annex building at the Hilton Hotel in Harbiye. In fact, this summer, they also opened a branch on the grounds of the Hilton Hotel - side by side with their other restaurant - Al Bushra which is a Lebanese restaurant that Mr. Yücebıyık opened last year to accolades - and another place I absolutely love! In the winter months, Al Bushra is on the 9th floor of the Hilton Hotel. Each table at Dragon has a lazy Susan, so make sure to share the wonderful and delicious selections on their a la carte menu. 

On the left side of the bar is Itsumi Sushi Bar ( - I guess I don't have to tell you the cuisine offered here! Itsumi has been at Reina for several years and for the past 2 at this particular spot, with their main branch at the Iş Bank Towers in Levent.  I personally have not had a chance to try their sushi, but I am sure its good.

Right on the Bosphorus waterfront and next to Itsumi is Blue Topaz ( - a sister restaurant of Topaz, which is located in Gümüşsuyu. Blue Topaz is celebrating its second season at Reina and is managed by Ayşegül Ilsever, a name well-known and popular on the restaurant and entertainment circuit. She is very good at what she does - she is not only friendly but also a professional - this is why Blue Topaz has a very good following. Versus its sister branch that has an a la carte menu including International and Turkish/Ottoman cuisine, Blue Topaz has a set menu/price which includes a selection of hot/cold appetizers, choice of main course and dessert costing 95 TL/person (VAT included).

Above Blue Topaz is one of my all time favorite restaurants in Istanbul - Park Şamdan! If I had the time, I would go to Park Şamdan once a week - but unfortunately this is not the case. In business for 30+ years, the main branch of this fine dining eatery is located in a lovely villa with a garden in Nişantaşı. During the summer months, the main branch is only open for lunch (and there is also a pre-set lunch menu). Park Şamdan's a la carte menu includes a wonderful selection of Turkish dishes and some International favorites. What can I say, the food is very very good - kudos to their longstanding chef! My favorites include any one of their cold appetizers prepared in olive oil and for a main course the Park Şamdan kebab. I swear it is prepared better than at some of the better kebab restaurants in town! The bartender also prepares a mean Vodka Martini! Of course, this is capped off with the excellent and efficient service - the waitstaff has been around for years!

Now, let's take a walk to the middle level. If you are at the center bar, turn your back to the Bosphorus - just for second - and you will notice a flight to stairs (about out 30-40 steps) that will take you to the heart of Reina - Reina Restaurant - From its front row and center spot, this fine dining restaurant offers the best view of the Bosphorus and bridge in the house! Reina's a la carte menu, includes a whole host of starters, salads, pizza & pasta, mains and desserts. Just to rub my back for a second - the english section of their menu is very well prepared - I totally re-did it for them recently :))) Of course, the food and service is also very good.

Our final stop - and the most secluded area at Reina - is the 3rd floor and Mirror Lounge ( - a newcomer this season to Reina, but not to Istanbul! I, among hundreds of other people, attended their opening party in June. There other branches are at the Iş Bank Towers in Levent and on the Asian side of the city in Suadiye. You can reach Mirror via its private entrance without having to go through the main area, or by climbing the stairs next to Reina Restaurant. An Italian eatery, Mirror is quite spacious and has a lovely view of the Bosphorus. However, from here, you will not be able to see what is going on downstairs - unless you are sitting right at the front edge - and this is something you might prefer - especially if you want a "quiet" and relaxing dinner - they also have their own music system. Afterwards, you can always go downstairs and join the revelers at the bar! Mirror's menu is quite extensive - I should know - I am once again going to rub my back - I totally re-wrote their English menu before they opened!

This concludes our mini tour of Reina... but, just some final words. Reina is owned by Mehmet Koçarslan and his partner Ali Ünal and Ali's sweetheart of a brother - Erkal - is the manager! This dynamic trio work very very hard to ensure that the quality and calibre of Reina is always at its peak and that their customers are happy and content when they step foot through the doors and when they leave. Reina Night Club might not be your "type" of entertainment or your idea of a night out as it is quite chi chi... you have to dress the part - it is expensive and it is a mosaic of  "beautiful people" from around the world. But, don't knock it until you try it at least once. Take my word for it, you will get hooked - it is a totally different experience!!

Also, If you like the music you listen to at Reina, they recently released their 3rd CD called Reina 3, which is available at all music markets in Istanbul.

Also, also... if you want to visit a "softer" version of Reina - then you might want to head over to Suada - located on Galatasaray Island (yes... a tiny island on the Bosphorus - reached via Suada's ring service), also managed by this dynamic trio - right by Kuruçeşme Park.. but that's another article!!

Ok ok... promise - one final note - I HAVE to start working - the cobwebs have dissipated - I want to end my article with an "Outtake" that I am stealing from Zagat (just got an email from them yesterday)...

"The decor writes checks, the food can't cash"

THANK GOD this is not the case with Reina Night Club - otherwise I wouldn't have written about them... but, unfortunately, there are many places like this - not only in Istanbul, but other parts of the world as well! So, let's show our determination and stop going to places like this. If we do not encourage them, they will either step up to the plate - or throw in the towel!

Ok...I am getting off my soap box now - it's time to get to work and earn some money!

Happy Sunday!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Update on posts...and Fodor's Travel Guide to Turkey

Dear Readers,

I just wanted to give you an update on my program. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I work as a freelancer and the life of a freelancer is always ever changing! One minute you might have no projects - and the next minute tons of back to back projects!!! No complaints though - I have to earn a living too, so that I can enjoy the good things in life and also continue blogging!

So.. because of some major rush projects that I got commissioned to do yesterday, I will unfortunately be off the grid for a while - but not that long - just a few more days.

I will do my best to see if I can squeeze in some short posts when I need to take a break from the projects I am doing just to clear my head - so keep on visiting my blog because the motivation I am getting from seeing the number of hits I am getting for such a new blog inspires me!

Speaking of inspiration.. once I start posting regularly - not only will I be posting info on Istanbul, but also the lovely resort towns of Çeşme and Alaçatı starting at the end of next week as I will be there for business and pleasure!

The "business" part of my trip has to do with the fact that I was commissioned by FODOR'S to update/edit and write the sections on the Central and Southeast Aegean regions (ie, Bodrum, Izmir, Çeşme/Alaçatı, Kuşadası, Pamukkale, Şirince, Ephesus, etc.) of Turkey for the next edition of Fodor's Travel Guide to Turkey which will be published in March 2012.

Finally - just some stats... I currently have readers in Turkey, USA, France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, Greece, Austria and Spain.. I hope to have readers in all countries around the world so, if you like my blog, feel free to share my blog address with your friends and associates!

I wish all of you a lovely weekend!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TIPS ON WINING & DINING in Istanbul...

One of the things I was aware of when I started my blog (just a little over 10 days ago) was that I needed to make it interesting to ensure that more and more people view my pages.

I have been trying to keep my articles light, fun to read  and diverse. I hope to an extent I am realizing this, but since I have not really gotten any comments - I can't be quite sure! I hope in time that I start getting comments so that I know whether I am in the right direction or not.

One thing I do want to do (not sure if I will be able to accomplish this) is to make sure that I post everyday! I am now waiting for approval to go ahead on two major projects - which I should have by the end of today - then, my time will be more limited, so I might have to skip a day or two... I just have to see how things go.

Having said this...I now want to get to the subject at hand. As in all cities, there is a certain etiquette and rules and regulations that should be followed to ensure that your wining and dining experiences are all pleasurable. Whether you currently live in Istanbul or are planning on visiting for business or pleasure, the following are some things that you should keep in mind.

Where to go:
This is usually the hardest question to answer! You are in a foreign city and pretty much don't know where to go. I recommend the following:
  • If you are staying at a major hotel, more than likely they have guidbooks in the rooms - specifically The Guide Istanbul. I'm not recommending this magazine just because I was at the helm of it for 10 years, but because it has been around for almost 20 years and its publisher and current staff are very carefully on the places that are included in the listing/information section and you can feel comfortable visiting any of the places mentioned with ease. You can also visit their website
  • Continue following me!!! Sure, my list will be much smaller as I can't write about every place in town worth going too, but you will notice that I include recommendations in almost all of my articles.
  • There are other local publications in English (Time Out Istanbul, Where Magazine), however, Time Out does not have a very detailed and updated listings section and Where Magazine is still too new for me to make any judgements about them.
In almost all cases, tips are NOT included in the bill as is common in most cities in Europe. But, to be sure, just look at the menu and you will see that in almost all cases, it will state that the prices only include VAT (sales tax). The average tip to pay is 10% of the total bill - if you feel you have received extra service, then you can tip more. However, tips can only be paid in cash and cannot be added to your credit card bill.

Credit cards:
Credits cards are widely accepted in Turkey with MasterCard and Visa the most heavily used and accepted. American Express has also grown quite a bit in the last few years and is accepted at more and more establishments.

Dress code:
As it is the case all over the world, it is best to "dress the part" when you are dining out. Jeans, t-shirts and especially sneakers are usually a "no-no" in most fine dining establishments and trendy clubs - like Reina, Sortie, Anjelique, etc. Now, when I say no "jeans and t-shirts", I don't mean the "designer" and "smart" jeans and t-shirts. But, no matter the situation, sneakers are frowned upon.

It is always a good idea to make a reservation at the more trendier restaurants as they are usually full and have to away back walk-ins. This is also true for some of the trendier cafes (like Lucca, Delicatessen, Mangerie, etc.). If you are not sure, just make a reservation - for lunch or dinner. The concierge or front desk at your hotel will be more than happy to assist you.

The majority of restaurants and cafes have menus in Turkish and English. Unfortunately not all of the menus are up to par on the English front! Some explanations or names of items might be confusing - feel free to ask if not sure of what the item means. More than likely, there is someone at the venue that can assist you - especially in the fine dining establishments - more than like most of the waiters know a bit of english.

Seafood restaurants:
Do not at all be surprised if you are not given a menu at seafood restaurants! Has nothing to do with the fact that you are a foreigner... Turks don't get one either. If you really really want to see one, they will give it to you, but it is not very meaningful.. because.. the price and selection of fish can change daily! Because of this, most of the prices of the appetizers are also affected - especially if they are seafood based. I recommend that once you are told what fish are available is to ask your waiter to tell you the price before you order so that you are not surprised when the bill comes. Appetizers and salads are priced per portion. For example, if you are a party of 4, unless you specify, the appetizer you order will be prepared for 4 people and you will be charged accordingly - so it best to specify the number of portions you want. I personally had a bad experience like this when we ordered a green salad and got charged nearly 50 TL for it because we were 6 people - even though the salad was NOT that huge!!!

Night Clubs:
It is best to stick to the known clubs for partying - which you will find a list of in The Guide Istanbul and I have mentioned some of them in my other articles. Also, most of them have independently owned multi-restaurants under one roof. However, you can also go to these places just for their bar and music. Now that it is the summer, all the trendy clubs are lined up along the Bosphorus waterfront between Ortaköy and Kuruçeşme with a few that double as clubs/restaurants in Asmalımescit. They are extra crowded on the weekends, but still quite crowded almost every night. You cannot make a reservation to go to just the bar, but keep the following in mind:
  • You will more than likely not make it past the bodyguards at the door if you are not dressed properly, already a little tipsy and show it... and are a group of men with no women in your group. Usually 2 guys is the limit when there is no women accompanying them.
  • There can be a cover charge (which usually includes one drink).
Smoking is only allowed in the outdoor section of restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels etc. Additionally, smoking is not permitted at concerts, sporting events, etc. - even if they are in open-air theatres and arenas.

Drinking water and ice:
I do not recommend that you drink tap water and instead order a bottle of water (the price is usually minimal at most places, but very high at hotel bars and restaurants - a beer is usually cheaper!). You do not have to worry about the ice that is placed in your drinks as venues purchase them in bulk from reputable distributors.

Final words:
  • At almost all the cafes around town, the mayo, ketchup and mustard are not refrigerated and kept outside. This can be a problem during the summer months with the heat. Especially be careful with the mayo!
  • You should try some of our "street food" - like simit (similar to a big bagel with sesame seeds), kumpir (baked potato stuffed with different toppings), midye dolması (stuffed mussels), etc... but again with caution! There are some reputable street vendors who offer these goodies - more than likely your local friends can steer you in the right direction.
  • Definitely try typical Turkish "home style" cooking! Most of the "best" selections can be found at the "no frills" mom/pop restaurants around town where the service is "cafeteria style" in that you select the food from a display and the waiter brings it to you. The prices are quite modest and more than likely, alcohol is not served. For a more "refined" experience, I recommend Hünkar (alcohol is served and reservations recommended) with branches in Etiler and Nişantaşı. They do not have a website and the telephone number for the Nişantaşı branch is Tel: (0212) 225 46 65 .
 Finally, the current exchange rate is as follows:

1 USD = 1,63 TL
1 Euro _ 2,3 TL

Enjoy Istanbul!

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    BEBEK & LUCCA..... with Luka!!!

    Talk about a hot hot day in Istanbul! Dear readers... I believe summer has FINALLY arrived in Istanbul. Until today, the weather has been milder than normal and we had on and off rains, but like the meterologist said a couple of days ago... "the temps in Istanbul and rest of Turkey will rise and be about 3-4 centigrades above average". 3-4 centigrades might not sound like alot - but it is!!!!

    Now that I work on a "freelance" basis since January 2011, I no longer dread Mondays! It's just another day for me and that feels good!

    However, since I have a lovely little pup - his name is Luka - he came into my life on  May 10, I no longer need an alarm clock!!! The little bugger wakes me up EVERY morning at 8:15am - he doesn't care what time I went to bed. According to him, this is the time that the day MUST begin!!! Sure, he sleeps on and off all day - I on the other hand, don't go to bed until at least 1:00am - even if I am just haning out at home - I am a night owl!

    First... just some info on Luka -it's a long story - so I will give you the short version... Luka (male) is a maltese terrier - he is about 9 months old, 3,5 kgs and I love him to pieces! He came into my life on May 10 - so we are still getting to know each other. As you can see,now that it is the summer - he has a haircut as it is too warm to have his coat longer (like in the photo of Luka and I in my main page post photo).

    After our morning ritual - a walk around my housing complex, breakfast and reading the papers - I had some errands to run for my mom but decided that before doing that... Luka and I should take a trip down to Bebek.

    Sorry for the bad photos of Bebek, but I forgot my camera - had to take them with my iphone on a very very sunny day (couldn't see anything) with a little dog dragging me!

    Bebek - which means "baby" in English is on the Bosphorus waterfront and one of the trendiest neighborhoods in town. The waterfront area (the main street is called Cevdetpaşa Caddesi) is not more than about 10-11 blocks (counting Bebek Park and the area with just apartment buildings and the entrance to Bosphorus University), but has sooooo much to offer its residents and visitors! But, I guess this is "good" if you are visiting, but can be a problem if you live there... it is sometimes too lively!

    Let me put it to you this way... of the total 11 blocks, in about a 7 block radius, there is a boutique hotel, lots of cafes/restaurants, pastry shops, grocery stores, fishmonger, pharmacist, bookstore, banks, fishmonger, florist, jewelery store, fast food eateries and more! At the end of the article, I will give you some recommendations on some of my favorite places.

    Luka and I arrived in Bebek at around 1:30pm and walked from the entrance to Bosphorus University to my favorite place in Bebek - Lucca ( - both with our tongues hanging out from the heat! In fact, I had to carry good ole Luka part of the way because he got tired - and it's not such a long walk! Upon sitting down and seeing our situation, Sonat (the waitress) immediately gave us water to quench our thirsts and cool down. This is not the first time that my Luka has gone to Lucca... so all the waiters know him too!

    Lucca is my home away from home - I have been a regular customer since Lucca opened a little over 5 years ago... I know the owner - Cem Mirap - a great guy and savvy businessman AND the recent father of twins! I know all the managers, waiters and head bartender (Cevat Yıldırım... makes EXCELLENT cocktails and has created some of his own too) by name and they know me... they know what I like to drink and what I like to eat. They know when I am happy - when I am sad and a couple of them had even invited me to their weddings! Most of the clientele also know each other - either they became friends at Lucca or know each other from other places. In lots of ways, it is a very "clicky" (but all customers are welcomed with open arms) and in an article I wrote on Lucca several years ago for The Guide Istanbul, I had compared it to an old popular TV series... "Cheers" - where everyone knows your name!

    It's hard to figure out why Lucca is still sooooooooooo popular after all these years, but I think it mainly has to do with the fact that the food is very very good and updated periodically, prices are not outrageous, the wait staff is incredible as far as I am concerned and its very homey and inviting..

    Normally, it is very difficult to find a place to sit outdoors (even in the winter!), but since it is the summer and most of its regular customers go away for long weekends to the south of Turkey - I had no problem finding a place to sit. I ordered a glass of red wine - a malbec (yup... even in the heat - I prefer red wine to white, rose or blush wines) and 2 light appetizers - mozarella cheese and tomato bruschetta and grilled asparagus drizzled with olive oil and slices of parmesan cheese.

    My fav dishes here are the shrimp and duck rolls, grilled salmon, pan-fried seabass and grilled köfte (turkish version of meatballs but oval), but it was so hot I wanted to have a light meal...The menu includes numerous appetizers, sandwiches, salads, mains and desserts. Also, during the evenings, a couple of sushi/sashimi dishes are available.

    After a second glass of wine and espresso... Luka and I said goodbye to Lucca and went to Levent to do my mom's errands... then visited mom and got home around 5:30pm and Luka has been out cold ever since! I on the other hand have checked my emails, facebook account and now preparing my post! I am wiped out too... so I better go to sleep early - little Luka will be waking me up at 8:15am!!


    Where to Eat/shop, etc.

    Seafood: Bebek Balıkçısı ( a little expensive, but definitely worth it! Make reservations)

    Cafes: Mangerie (is not on the street level, but rather on the top floor of a building at Cevdetpaşa Caddesi No. 69 - food is very good with indoor and outdoor dining areas); Kitchenette - steps from Lucca with indoor and spacious outdoor dining areas).

    Drinks/Snacks: Bebek Bar (at the Bebek Hotel) - has been around for over 35 years! Right on the waterfront.. nice and quiet/relaxing and good snacks and some main courses available during lunch and dinner hours. Also, even though a bar, you can stop by for coffee... tea...a cola... fruit juice...

    Fast Food: for a juicy burger - Dükkan Burger! They have a few tables, but you can also take out.

    Pastries: Baylan ... a longstanding pastry shop  - they opened a branch in Bebek last year - they also have indoor and outdoor seating areas.

    Shopping: Yargıcı Accessories ... nice selection of casual attire and accessories with many branches throughout the city.

    Other: Meşhur Bebek Badem Ezmesi - the marzipan and almond candy is delicious! Ladurée - French purveyors of macaroons.. they are produced in France and shipped to Turkey. Laleli Olives & Olive Oils (self explanatory!)

    Charcuterie/Deli: Santral Şarküteri... the BEST appetizers prepared fresh daily. They also carry alot of products from the USA too (cereals, soups, pancake mix, etc.), but expensive.